What to do when cats attack

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Cats and kittens may look cute and cuddly but when they turn on you, they can become fierce fur monsters.

The most important thing to do if your cat is suddenly behaving aggressively is to rule out any underlying medical conditions, such as liver or neurological disease or a pain-inducing disease like arthritis.

From there, you can work out which of the seven main types of aggression your cat may be dealing with. These are: fear, redirected, pain-induced, patting, play, noise-induced and sexual aggression.

Greencross The Pet Company’s chief veterinary officer Dr Magdoline Awad explores possible causes of aggression in this reader’s cat.

QUESTION:We have a seven-month-old kitten who was just perfect in all respects for the first six months. Affectionate, playful and cuddly. She has started persistent nipping and occasional biting, most playful and affectionate, and some aggressive and drawing blood. Do you have any advice that might get her out of the habit without damaging her affectionate spirit?

ANSWER: It’s normal for kittens to bite and scratch; they think it’s all part of the fun.

An important thing for them to learn, though, is that it hurts you. As such, the first step is to teach them that biting is not play.

Discontinue play when she gets too excited and starts to bite. Avoid using any parts of your body for play such as your own hands and feet.

Cats can also develop a habit of nipping when they’re bored and want to get your attention.

It’s very, very important to provide enrichment for any growing cat. This means playing with her – provide her with a range of toys she can play with and mix it up a little every day.

It can also mean environmental enrichment, ensuring that she has enough places to hide and watch the world from.

Using special feeders can also add to the fun; they can help satisfy the need to forage and has the added bonus of preventing overeating. And, of course, cats love scratching posts.

In essence: give an outlet for your little one to play all the time. It can make cuddles and playtime more fun for the both of you.

There are some great products such as Feliway that have been formulated to assist cats with stress and their behaviour. These may assist while you are implementing play and time out strategies at home.

If her behaviour persists, please make an appointment to see your local vet to ensure there is not a possibility of an underlying medical issue such as sore joints or teeth.

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smartdaily@news.com.au

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